Now I'm sure you're saying, "OH JESUS Meaghan, just post recipes and your favorite Etsy links and stop being so sensitive." After a gesture of kindess and goodwill (note: the gesture is neither kind nor good, mmkay) in your general direction, I will tell you that when I am stuck in a bout of anger, I'm not particularly moved to care about the things that I consider frivolous. Recipe Tuesdays and fun crafty bits are included in that frivolty as I am under no illusions that they sustain my soul in an enduringly satisfying way. I am nothing if not an overthinker and constant analyzer, and despite the gargantuan size of my head, I cannot handle more than one task when the primary focus is giving a shit about other people.
What the hell am I talking about and why am I always writing two paragraph-long introductions? I suppose the psychological explanation is that I'm a disclaimer junkie...in order to not offend anyone, I issue a litany of disclaimers so as to confuse you with my brain warfare and make you nod your head in agreement once I get to the meaty stuff. Right? Oh, no. In all honesty, I'm kind of wimp and coming right out and saying that I didn't apply to Crafty Bastards and that I'm considering ending my relationship with Etsy makes me feel scared. But I did that, and I'm thinking of doing the other and I have some very fundamental and important reasons why. The acknowledgment of privilege, and subsequently the acknowledgment of diversity, is much more important to me than playing the "game" of mainstream/indie crafts and feeling like I belong to the pack.
I've posted a series of mini-diatribes about these topics...diversity, racism, and the general disinterest the crafty movement At Large seems to have in uplifting people who might not fit into the standard mold of "crafter". I think that Etsy and many other crafty machines are willingly and destructively ignoring the ability they have to be not like every other consumeristic and capitalistic machine and do the right thing by the people who might not have the same number of opportunities as other crafters. As it stands, Etsy's membership is 96% female, and I can only assume (with great accuracy, I bet, because I'm good like that) that the majority of that membership demographic is also heterosexual, cisgendered and white. THAT is a problem. As I've said before, feminism doesn't stop with uplifting women. And while there are a lot of women on Etsy and in the craft community, I also don't think it's inherently feminist.
When you operate from the belief that feminism is the fight to end all oppressions, and you also believe (acknowledge?) that all things are political and should be, to some degree, entangled with the fight to erradicate oppression and level out privilege, being a part of the Etsy and craft community is very, very hard. At every turn I do not see positivity and light, I see room for growth and change. The direction I (personally/generally) want things to move in is the place from which all of my energy is derived. In this case, I cannot be tethered to a movement that resolves to stay apolitical, that is systematically being absorbed into the mainstream machine (please read this article from Forbes which notes that Etsy has received [a lot of] money from a Wal-Mart magnate), and also seems ambivalent about supporting the oppressed groups that function within it. In my case, I am a queer person and I generally see very few on the face of Etsy or the craft movement who are out (or comfortable being out) and also I have received little support from Etsy or the craft movement when I point out this reality. While I am not a person of color, I will say that the lack of exposure on Etsy is lacking (severely). Also, the degree to which the white hipster contingent has appropriated fashion, aesthetic and even artistic inspiration is offensive.
Note: Last year, I did receive a batch of buttons and stickers from Etsy for a queer music and arts festival I was co-producing because they seemed to be drawn in by the allure of marketing to gay people. And subsequently, I have been an Etsyvangelist for years because I somehow thought being loved was enough.Being loved, adored and generally tolerated is not enough. In my specific case, I'm not interested in Etsy or any other facet of the craft community being my fag hag. General technological and programming issues aside, it seems like no matter how hard we try, most of us won't be chosen to be among the Etsy/Craft elite. Daniellexo, Etsy admin, said in a recent Virtual Lab entitled Feature Friendly Tips For Your Shop, "Don't make it a goal of yours to be a featured seller." This further illustrates my suspicion that there is an agenda, if you will, a prescribed method by which Etsy selects its featured sellers and that quite honestly, no matter how hard you try, you might not ever get there. Do you understand how sad and unmotivated that makes me feel? I mean, sure, I could join ArtFire or set up my own selling website, or just sell locally, but I shouldn't have to constantly choose. I shouldn't have to inconvenience myself nor should any other person who has the shoe of oppression smashed in their face constantly have to move on or away from things that perpetually disregard their (our) very real, uh, realities. Don't you get it? This is why oppression is bad...because it doesn't, in the end, help anyone.
Conforming to that persistent uphill climb that Etsy and the craft community establishes for people, and striving to be successful (also "happy", "positive", "optimistic"...as though I am none of these things already) according to their terms, and only really being the recipient of mondo sales and exposure IF I'm on the right page at the right time is EXHAUSTING. And it's also devaluing. Because if we're all artists, to some degree, conforming to the popular machine should be the least of our worries. At this point, I'm considering making it the least of mine.
**While I support an open dialogue on my blog and in my life, the one thing I will not tolerate here is face-fanning offense and insults directed at me from basically anyone, but specifically the white, cisgendered, heterosexual women I have discussed above. Consider the fact that my experience is in many ways radically different than yours. Also, consider that this is my space and that there is a general expectation that you would, at least, take into consideration the fact that I have very carefully constructed my own personal dogma and that devaluing that, in many ways, is akin to taking a crap on my doorstep. Which, as we all know, does nothing to support your perspective in the end.